One Handful With Tranquility (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

I can get lost in the soft perfection of a baby’s hand. Those teeny pink fingernails. Those dimply knuckles. Those lusciously rolly-polly wrists.

I remember watching in fascination as my baby discovered for the first time that he could control his hands. It was revolutionary! He started using them as tools to explore the world around him (and he stopped accidentally hitting himself in the face, as newborns do).

I love the way Ecclesiastes 4:5-6 talks about hands. Even as adults we’re still learning how to use our hands, it seems!

At times in my life I’ve been driven by all-consuming ambition: envisioning my ideal life and working really hard to get it.

The problem is, I never stayed satisfied for long. Once I reached one summit, I’d find another (taller) mountain to climb. I filled my life with much more busyness than was necessary.

It really was like “chasing after the wind” — doggedly pursuing my goals but never experiencing a lasting sense of completeness.

The writer of Ecclesiastes suggests a better way: “one handful with tranquility”.

For me, this means being happy in our small apartment. It means enjoying the one handful that I do have: Warm winter sunshine in our little living room. Two kids who know how to cooperate because they have to share a bedroom.

It means letting my other hand stay empty — not wishing and striving and toiling for the dream of a bigger home. It means letting go because working harder would make my health plummet, and not only would I suffer but my husband and kids would also suffer as a result.

What does “one handful with tranquility” look like for you?

Lord, some of us are exhausting ourselves with overwork, chasing after an elusive ideal future. Please help us to discover the treasure of contentment. May we learn to embrace the incompleteness of today. May we find lasting satisfaction as we search for completeness in Christ alone, whether we’re living with plenty or little. Amen.

“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have… whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Phil 4:11-13 NLT)



  1. Hosea Long says:

    Complete in God is the ultimate. The interesting thing is that so many of us know that, but that knowledge is at an intellectual level versus a spiritually/operational one. Thanks for stirring my thoughts!

    • Kristy says:

      Too true, Hosea! This is one reason why I write thoughts down. It’s my way of helping the knowledge seep deep into my heart. Why is it that head knowledge doesn’t always translate to our hearts, I wonder?? Maybe that’s where prayer comes in (and I’m not so consistent in my prayer life! A work in progress, lol) – because God is a living being, not just an idea or a philosophy… Now you’ve stirred my thoughts!

  2. madison says:

    Amen. I took on a second job recently. My mind keeps coming back to this verse. maybe each handful is a job i have, and not only that but the ideal that ibwant and strive for.
    maybe this ideal, i will have to give up, and give up before its toll causes more damage that is at risk than not.

    • Kristy says:

      It’s a hard balancing act, isn’t it? I’m praying that God will give you the wisdom you need to discern what’s best with your work situation. (Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. I’ve taken a long break from my blog and am only seeing your comment today.)

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